TransPacific Flight, 1956
How much can a five year old remember?
I remember the stewardess in her blue suit, hat and heels walking down the aisle, reaching over my father to offer me the white square of gum, explaining I was supposed to chew it as the plane climbed into the air.
I remember the terrifying sound of the engines, and looking out the cabin window to see the props start up and soon whir so fast I couldn't see them anymore. I remember grabbing Daddy's hand when the noise got so loud, I was afraid the plane would explode. Then the plane's slow walk, then race down the runway. The lurch of liftoff.
Initial fascination as I watched the ground fly down and away, things growing smaller and smaller until they were patchwork and then the plane facing out over a vast blanket of blue, the Pacific.
The hours of tedium, after the excitement of getting my own flight bag, and slippers, and wings. The steady drone and sleeping, sleeping. Waking to eat and walk down the narrow aisle with my mother to the tiny bathroom. The coloring book and crayons. Packing everything back into my blue bag and sleeping some more.
Eventually landing in Honolulu. Groggy, so tired. But I remember the scent of the leis that greeters draped over me, and even over my two year old brother. Maybe some hours of sleep, I don't remember.
Then another plane. And another landing, at Midway. Or was it Wake? Maybe Guam. The plane puddle jumped across the Pacific.
I don't remember climbing into the last plane for the final flight into Manila, I was so anesthetized with fatigue. But I remember being carried off the plane when we landed at Clark Field, into that hot, sweaty night, into that strange place -- the Philippines -- my new home.
This happened forty-nine years ago.